How to Handle a Bad Test Score

A bad test score can be a big shock, but it can also be the motivation your child needs to improve. Here’s what to do if your child didn’t meet their goals.

If your child can take the test again

Sign up for another exam
Signup for the next available test. If they’ve been studying, they’ve built momentum and put in a lot of hours; waiting six months wastes that effort. The only exception is if they scored way below their intended score and need a lot more tutoring and time to improve.

If your child took the ISEE and can’t take it again, there may be time to take the SSAT(and vice-versa). Many schools accept both tests.

If they took the PSAT, don’t worry about it (colleges don’t look at PSAT scores), but start their SAT or ACT prep earlier than you originally planned. If their PSAT was a disaster, look into taking the ACT, and definitely read SAT or ACT here.

Talk about it
Ask your child what happened on test day. Did anything go wrong? Did they think they did better? This doesn’t have to be a long talk. If you can order a copy of the test (The October, March or May SAT or the December, April or June ACT), do so.

Understand it’s a process
Standardized tests are anxiety-inducing, and some kids need to get one bad score out of the way before they test to their ability. A bad test score can just mean your child had a bad day.

Make a plan
Make a scheduleto ensure your child is studying enough and addressing their weak points. Make sure they take a Biometric Edge exam so you can check your child’s pacing and whether they’re checking their work.

If your child can’t take the test again
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. In my experience, where someone goes to school matters less than what they do there. It may sound like a rotten consolation, but you can use a poor test score as a way to talk to your child about the value of hard work and the benefit of struggle .

In any case, make sure your child understands that a bad test score doesn’t mean failure in life. I’ve stated it before, but it bears repeating: it’s extremely important to stop any ideas your child might have that they cannot succeed in life because of one test. The world is full of successful people who bombed their standardized tests.

To your child’s success!

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